1. It’s unnecessary
The ear is self-cleaning. No routine maintenance is required. If you’re inserting swabs into your ears to remove earwax or prevent its build-up, think again. Earwax is produced within the ear canal and naturally migrates from deeper inside to outside. There are exceptions, of course. Some people make more than the average amount of earwax, and for others (especially older adults) it becomes harder and drier than usual. Even in these situations, inserting a swab inside the ear is not the answer.
2. It may be harmful
Inserting a cotton tipped swab (or anything else) into the ear can damage the ear canal or eardrum, or push earwax further into the canal, making it harder to remove. This may cause a feeling of pressure in the ear and hearing loss. Even worse, clumps of earwax pushed down near the eardrum can lead to ear infection, pain or ear blockage.
3. Earwax is not a sign of poor hygiene
Earwax — the medical term is "cerumen" — is there for a reason.
What to do about "cerumenosis"
Build-up of earwax can cause symptoms. This is called "cerumenosis" or impacted wax. Over-the-counter ear drops that can soften earwax and allow it to exit the ear more easily (with gentle irrigation, such as during a shower) can be used. Or an ENT specialist can look inside your ear and use instruments specifically designed to remove earwax.
In conclusion . . .
There’s a reason the makers of cotton-tipped swabs put this warning on their packaging: "Do not insert swab into ear canal. Entering the ear canal could cause injury." But, it still goes on. Perhaps it’s just too tempting or satisfying. Perhaps no one reads the labels of the products they use. Or maybe the myths about earwax are too ingrained to be easily dispelled by facts. Whatever the reasons, now you know to stop putting cotton-tipped swabs into your ears. And that also goes for unfolded paper clips, pen caps, or whatever else you’ve been using!
Welcome to Dr Chris' blog page
In this blog, Singapore ENT Specialist and Head & Neck Surgeon, Dr. Chris Hobbs, will share useful information about the ENT conditions that you may be suffering from.